GM Foods & Hamsters…Don’t be Afraid!!

I recently read an article that was written about GMO foods and seeds. It was brought to my attention by the U.S. Farmer’s and Rancher’s Alliance, Food Dialogue website, they send out articles and publications that may have a negative outlook on agriculture and ask for people to respond, blog, tweet, facebook, etc, on what they think of the issue. The most recent article was entitled “GMO-fed Hamsters Become Infertile, Have Stunted Growth.” With the small tag line underneath reading, “Overall GM sounds like a sweet deal only for Monsanto (and our own FDA and USDA, repeatedly found in bed with them). It remains a bad deal for us, the consumers.” I encourage you to read the article and see what you think, but I also encourage you to read this blog afterwards, maybe I can help put some of your fears at ease. I plan to not use fear to convince you of what I believe about GM products and seeds, ps…I’m not in bed with Monsanto either!

First I was take a back by the article because it never actually cites where it got any of the information that they are claiming as facts, makes me nervous! Plus why all this bashing, when the reality is that Genetically Modified seeds have a very positive side that isn’t once talked about in this article. These are a tool that has come from technology that allows farmers to feed more people with less land. Just as GPS technology helps us be more efficient, we take all the gains that we can to produce the healthiest food per acre that we can. And we’ve come a long ways, today the average farmer feeds 155 people, in 1960 that number was only 25.8! So how can that be possible, mainly because of advances in technology, including the use of GM seeds. Here is another great article that outlines some of the advantages to feeding more with less. But this isn’t to say that we find out a new technology is there and right away everyone is using it without regard to any harmful side effects. Actually it’s the exact opposite! GM seeds and foods have been tested over and over again, and are still being tested today to make sure that they are safe for human and animal consumption. And it’s not only the FDA and USDA doing this research, the EPA and WHO are also involved in testing foods all the time to make sure that what we produce is safe. Here are a few of those regulations:

I think the average consumer would be amazed at how much research is truly done before products are given out or sold to the public. The same goes for pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, they are all under a microscope all the time to make sure safety is at its highest level. Maybe the biggest testament to this is the fact that as a farmer, I eat GMO products, my family does the same. I’m glad that we have a choice to eat whatever we like, and farm the way that we want to farm. I also appreciate all the hard work that companies put in to make sure that what we feed our kids is safe. All at the same time I don’t appreciate fear marketing to try to get people to have a bad taste in their mouth when they see GMO on a label, because if they ate what’s in the package, that taste in their mouth would still just be delicious farm grown corn.

Just be mindful that fear is out there and it’s a powerful voice, and I know at least for me, it’s made me always second guess when I see an article bad mouthing a practice that is helping to feed our ever growing population, without even mentioning any of the benefits it can bring.  Also a thanks to the USFRA, it’s nice to know someone is looking out for the best interest of American Agriculture!

Conventional or Organic…what do you put in your grocery cart??

I am a farmer and I am also an eater. You could almost say that I’m addicted to it…that is putting things in my stomach. I’m also a very avid cooking not-so-much wiz, that loves to try new things and really go out on a limb at times with my experimental foods. I guess you could say I’m a farmer foodie that is just trying to earn her wings in the cooking realm. Because of this I’m usually the one that heads to the grocery store to choose what is going to be put in the cart, in the fridge and eventually on the table. So as I walk through the grocery store I’m always confronted with many many choices! As are most people in the United States, who receive the cheapest and safest food supply in the world (thank you farmers). I see a lot of organic options and conventional options. So what do I buy and why?

Conventional on Left, Organic on Right.
Pretty close to the same, minus a bug hole in the top of the organic.

The organic produce and conventional usually look about the same. Truth be told sometimes the organic does look a bit on the “under the weather” side of things. But that’s beside the point, I think that they both taste good, both have the same nutrients, and in the end both have the same result. So when I go to pick up my produce, here is why I’m more likely to pick-up the conventional…

  • I like to support conventional agriculture. I truly believe that it is still our future and we can’t feed the world without that technology.
  • I myself am a conventional farmer, so I understand how careful we have to be in the US to provide safe food. We don’t just spray to spray, we do it carefully and timely to keep us all safe.
  • The nutrients are not any different, I can still be a healthy person while eating produce that had pesticides sprayed on them.
  • Many organic sprays are not healthy either, and they have to spray more often because they are not as effective.
  • Pricing, conventional is usually much cheaper to buy.

Now I would write here the reasons that I would buy organic, but honestly I can’t say that I buy these products. I think that it’s for a lot of the reasons above and I feel very passionately about them. Plus I can honestly say that I’m very frustrated about the organic movement and what they have done to the reputation of farmers across the US. I come from a farm where all you neighbors are there to help, my agriculture involves lending a hand and some advice to make others also succeed. I come from an agricultural community where literally everyone knows your name and although many of our farms are “Incorporated” we are all still family run farms. With the onset of organic it seems like they are trying to take that away. They make my farm look like we don’t care about the land, like we just go out and spray without any regard to what is going on in the soil, in the air, or around our property. I’ll tell you one thing, we couldn’t care more for the land, because if we didn’t, we would be out of work forever, and this legacy that I’m a part of, I am working hard every day to make sure that it’s there for my children. Organic has hit the scene and they are becoming successful on the back s of farmers who have been here for a long time tending the land. They bad-mouth and accuse and send out false information that just quite frankly isn’t true. I hope that we can find a place someday where we can eat what we want, conventional or organic, and be happy supporting two successful industries!

This is what people think of when they thing “Corporate Farms”…

This is what our “Corporate” Farm looks like, It’s all about family and taking care of the land.

I googled “Organic vs. Conventional” today and came up with a mayo-clinic website. It had a chart of the differences between conventional farming and organic. I would like to point out a few examples of why this debate seems very mis-educated. They say that conventional farmers apply chemicals to promote plant growth. Organic farmers apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants. These statements are true, however they are not complete! As a conventional farmer we also apply manure and compost to our plants to help with plant growth and health. It also helps the soil. Basically through the whole list we conventional farmers look like all we do is pour on the chemicals, when in reality I can truly say that we have done all the of things on the organic side. We do them all year long, the difference is that we can’t produce at the level that we need to, to feed all the people in the world, by not taking advantage of the advances in technology that the agricultural community has worked so hard to make available.

I hope that when you go the store you can choose what you want to eat. That you can look and appreciate that we have so many choices that are safe and economical for our families! Thank a farmer either organic or conventional because we are both doing the best we can for you, for the land and for our families!

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